Baseball's Beer Showers
by Lin V. Gonzalez
Baseball’s relationship with alcohol evolves in tandem with American ideals. From the
early days of saloon owners, to Budweiser’s league-wide arrival during the boom-
boom ’80s, baseball’s boozy operations reflect the mores of the day.
Now, conscientious consumption is on the rise, and Big Beer is investing in
kombucha and spiked sodas. Are Bud Light and Champagne showers on their way
out? Is it even possible to separate baseball from booze?
In 1882, saloon owner Chris von der Ahe purchased the St. Louis Browns. His
motivation? To assure he would have the lucrative beer concessions. Von der Ahe
wasn’t alone. Long before Coors purchased naming rights to Coors Field, home of
the Colorado Rockies, in 1995, Anheuser-Busch bought the St. Louis Cardinals in
1957. Baltimore’s National Brewing Company was the official sponsor of its hometown
Orioles until they could no longer sustain themselves independently and joined
forces with Carling Brewery, in 1975.
In the National League, pre-Major League Baseball (MLB), Cincinnati’s ball club
made so much money from beer that, when the league president banned beer sales,
the team refused to stop. It was kicked out of the league and ultimately disbanded. A
new Cincinnati team, the Reds, joined the American Association, which existed until
1891. Eventually the team rejoined the National League (the puritanical president
who kicked them out in the first place had passed away).
Today, there are several official partnerships. In addition to Coors in Colorado, Miller
Brewing Company will hold title sponsorship for Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee
Brewers, through 2020. In 2017, Sam Adams ousted Budweiser in the Green
Monster, making Boston Beer the official sponsor of Red Sox baseball. Sam Adams
signage replaced Budweiser’s in right field; it’s now called the “Sam Deck.” When the
Red Sox clinched a World Series berth on Oct. 18, the players drenched one another
in Sam ‘76.
The origins of post-game beer showers are unclear. When the Dodgers triumphed
over the Yankees in the 1955 World Series, they celebrated with Schaefer Beer, the
Dodgers’ beer sponsor at the time. The first mention of Champagne in the locker
room is 1957, when the Milwaukee Braves captured of the World Series crown. The
first Champagne shower on record, however, was documented after the Pittsburgh
Pirates won in 1960. The postseason shower solidified itself in that era as teams kept
the tradition alive.
The baseball season is the longest in American professional sports, with 162 games
per season. Playoff expansion includes a Wild Card playoff, Divisional and
Championship Series, and the World Series. That means there are as many as five
occasions in which to bust out the plastic locker room tarps. It can start to seem
excessive. Do we need to celebrate a playoff berth just because another team lost?
Should we spray Champagne over someone who isn’t even part of the team, but just
happens to be standing nearby?
In 2012, when the Washington Nationals won the NL East, 20-year-old star player
Bryce Harper couldn’t legally imbibe. For some viewers, America’s alcohol litigation
affixes a dark lens to public consumption, regardless of circumstance or corporate
To that end, MLB has put rules in place to ensure vaguely conscientious
consumption. One clause decrees that non-alcoholic beverages be made available
to those are who under age or have struggled with alcohol in the past, such as Josh
Hamilton and Miguel Cabrera.
League policies set guidelines for the number of bottles allowed in the locker room
(two bottles of Champagne per player), type of alcohol served (beer and
Champagne), and behavior (no bringing the alcohol onto the field or spraying it into
the stands). Teams are responsible for getting the players we see drenched in beer,
Champagne, and victory home safely.
Based on an article on VinePair -by Matt Osgood
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